I had a really rewarding high-five the other night. It was a little out of character, as I’m typically not a sober high-fiver, and in this case I was pretty sober.
I was at dinner with my friends Leanne and Jillian, and we had been discussing career exploration (mine specifically).
I left my job in May 2015 in search of a new challenge after almost ten years working in corporate retail. As I’ve been exploring what’s next, I decided to start a blog about style, décor, and experiences as a way of building a creative portfolio of my own work and my inspiration.
I had reached out to Leanne for advice because I admire that she has turned her personal brand into a creative consultancy. Leanne spends some days styling campaign photo shoots for major retailers and others designing cool interior concepts for commercial and residential spaces. Not only do I enjoy her work, but I also love that she doesn't feel compelled to make her career scope too narrow.
At dinner, we laughed a lot and caught up on life. At the end, Leanne and Jillian delivered some final words of encouragement, including some tough love. They told me that if I was starting a blog, I couldn’t be wishy-washy about it when I talk to people about it. That I can’t say, “I’m thinking about doing this.” That I need to say definitively, “I’ve started a blog, and it’s giving an online presence to the creative components of my personal brand. That’s what I’m doing.”
And that’s when we high-fived. I had started dinner feeling a little confused about my career search, my blog, my life plans, how it should all fit together. I had started the blog and was excited about this new creative project, but I was downplaying it in conversations with people… maybe because if I didn't sound too committed to it, they couldn't judge me for wanting to take my blog and personal brand seriously. But in that moment, I felt lucky to have high-fivers like Leanne and Jillian, people who cheer you on to be honest with yourself. I felt lucky to be friends with people who don’t assume that there is only one right way to do something. I caught myself admiring qualities in my friends that I wasn't allowing in myself, and I realized that was a pointless double standard. Recognizing that made me more open-minded about possibilities for my own path. I felt empowered, like I could be anything, and multiple things at the same time.
The truth of the matter is that setting out on this path has been both invigorating and intimidating. I frequently find myself feeling confused and empowered at the same time.
The confused-empowered dichotomy intrigues me, but it makes sense. As with any pursuit, the early days can make you feel unqualified and a little lost, and often uncertain if you will succeed. Yet there is a certain thrill that accompanies betting on yourself, and it feels adventurous to be trying something brand new. You feel in control, and if you’re anything like me, you thrive on creating plans out of ambiguity.
I’ve learned to embrace the confusion and understand that it’s part of the path to empowerment.
Jillian's dog accessories brand: gitligoods.com